About BUS 3350 A

Students will learn to work effectively in and with family enterprises - the predominant organizational form in the world. By understanding their unique advantages and challenges, students will learn to develop strategic solutions to improve the family and business performance. Prerequisites: BUS 2300; Business Administration, Engineering Management major; Business Administration minor; minimum Junior standing.


Prereqs enforced by the system: BUS 2300; BSAD, EGMT majors or BSAD minors only; Minimum Junior standing; Open to Degree and PACE students

Section Description

Every six of ten undergraduate students at the Grossman School of Business (GSB) have at least one member of their family running an independent business. In most instances, more than one member of the family is involved in the ownership, management and/or governance of the business. Is this student background unique to GSB? Not really! Family businesses are the predominant form of business organizations in the world. These enterprises are distinguished from other organizations by the significant influence of the controlling family on the creation, continuity, mode and extent of growth, and exit of a business. They contribute an estimated 60-90% of the global GDP. In the US, family businesses generate over 60% of the employment. Family enterprises are not limited to private companies as over half of the publicly listed US companies are family controlled; and Family Offices and Foundations dominate the $715-billion impact-investing sector. The greatest part of American wealth lies with family-controlled firms. The future is bright for family businesses. According to McKinsey & Co. 15% of the world’s largest companies were family controlled in 2010. This number will change to 40% by 2025. In emerging and fast-growing economies, 60% of private firms with revenues > 1 Billion USD are family controlled. The United Nations predicts new business opportunities exceeding $12 trillion for those that pursue sustainable development goals. In this course, we focus on family businesses that are leading in sustainable development reaping above industry triple bottom line performance advantages. While family enterprises range in size from the smallest to the largest, from the youngest to the oldest, located in developed and developing economies, each faces its unique strengths and challenges, a bright and a dark side to be managed. Thus, leading accounting, consulting and finance firms, banks & governments are devoting special attention to engage with and serve this important sector of our economy. With the aging of the boomer generation, the wealth and leadership of family businesses must be transitioned to the next generation of family or non-family leaders. Only firms that are able to engage capable next-gen leaders are likely to survive and thrive through this great generational transition. To work effectively and professionally, in and with family firms, and to launch and create cross-generational value and wealth in family firms, it is important to understand the unique dynamics, challenges and opportunities available to these firms. This course prepares students to gain such an understanding. The Grossman School of Business @ UVM is among the Top 25 Business Schools in the world for FB programs that include the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition (SG-FECC), Family Business Awards (FBA), and Family Business Club (FBC). Students enrolled in this course have opportunities to participate and lead these initiatives.

Section Expectation

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to: • Differentiate between entrepreneurial family and non-family enterprise. • Describe the significance and diversity of family enterprise. • Distinguish between the bright and dark sides of family business. • Explain the multi-stakeholder perspectives in family enterprises. • Evaluate the role of family business in the regional economy and community. • Analyze the structure and systems business families use to persevere over generations as family, business, and the competitive environment evolves. • Devise strategic and pragmatic solutions to address an issue / problem faced by a family business of your choice.


Individual: Case Analysis / Class Contributions - 20% Reflection Papers - 20% Group assignments: Introduce your selected family business - 10% VT Legacy & Family Business Awards Report - 20% Case Report (consulting project) - 30%

Important Dates

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Courses may be cancelled due to low enrollment. Show your interest by enrolling.

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